SAN FRANCISCO – It’s become nearly a regular occurrence during Gonzaga road games.
The opposing crowd, typically led by the student section, begins chanting “overrated, overrated” at GU freshman Chet Holmgren.
And right on cue, Holmgren provides a couple of examples why he’s highly rated in the eyes of NBA scouts.
The chant surfaced in the first half at War Memorial Gym on Thursday night, oddly after the 7-footer had already posted eight points, five rebounds and two blocks.
“You hear it. There’s 500 or 1,000 or however many in the student section so you hear it,” Holmgren said. “At the same time, you’re pretty locked in. It doesn’t really register or get my mind off what’s happening on the court.”
Holmgren’s stat line grew quickly as the chant faded away, including one play where he snagged a rebound, dribbled the length of the court and soared for a two-handed dunk. By halftime, Holmgren had 12 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals and Gonzaga held a 52-42 lead.
“What a coincidence,” Holmgren smiled of the timing of his dunk coming shortly after the chant. “I’m pretty fired up already to play USF, a great team. We have to go assert our dominance and prove it to ourselves every night how good we are, that’s what I was trying to do.”
Holmgren finished with 21 points, 15 rebounds, six blocks and three steals, adding to his string of big games on the road. He had 18 points and 17 boards versus Pepperdine, 20 points and 17 rebounds against BYU and 23 points and 12 rebounds versus San Diego in Gonzaga’s last three road contests.
“These guys that are coming in as highly-rated guys that have played in a lot of big events with lot of eyes on them, they don’t back away from the spectacle of these games,” Zags coach Mark Few said. “They kind of thrive in them. Chet is a very confident player but he does a great job team-wise, as far as figuring out what they’re giving us and doing that.
“I thought he made some nice passes and he and Andrew (Nembhard) were connecting. Obviously defensively having that element around the rim is huge.”
Sallis, Hickman slow down Bouyea
Hunter Sallis and Nolan Hickman, two more members of Gonzaga’s talented freshmen class, made important contributions. Sallis’ work defensively helped slow down San Francisco senior guard Jamaree Bouyea, who hit his first four shots, but cooled off when Sallis was chasing him around perimeter screens.
Hickman had success with the same assignment in the second half.
“It was kind of Hunter in the first half and Nolan in the second half,” Few said. “Bouyea is such a good player, smart, quick and can shoot 3s, adept passer. I thought we did a good job on him.”
Hickman finished with seven points, including a 3-pointer, in just 12-plus minutes. Bouyea finished with 14 points on 6-of-15 shooting.
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